CASE LAW UPDATE:  Was there sufficient evidence to establish that defendant knew he was a prohibited person?    

Defendant was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm.  He appealed.  On appeal, he argued that he did not know he was a prohibited person.  There was sufficient evidence that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm while he was subject to a no contact order involving an intimate partner.  Accordingly, defendant qualified as a prohibited person under the statute.  Affirmed.

This is a federal case.   There are two jurisdictions where a person can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.  The first is in State court.  This is the most common.  The second is federal court.  The sentences in federal court for crimes is usually much more severe than in state court.

Interestingly in this case, defendant had not been previously convicted of a felony, where a person becomes prohibited from possessing firearms.  Herein, in an unusual case, defendant became prohibited from possessing firearms because he was subject to a no contact order.  The case does not specify whether it was a no contact order in a criminal case, a DANCO, which is a domestic assault no contact order, a harassment restraining order, or an order for protection.  In Minnesota, if a person violates a DANCO, a domestic assault no contact order, which was issued in a State court, then a new criminal charge can be brought against a defendant, in addition to whatever charges the defendant was facing in the original criminal case.  Generally, under federal law, when a person is subject to an order for protection, which involves a romantic partner, then a person becomes prohibited from possessing a firearm.  This is what happened in this case.  Then, evidently, the law required that it be proven that defendant knew he was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of the issuance of a no contact order.

In this case, defendant was originally charged criminal with being a prohibited person in unlawful possession of a firearm.  The original charges were brought in the trial court.  In federal court, the trial court is called a District Court.  In State court, the trial court is just called a trial court.  In the federal court system, there are three levels of courts.  The first is the District Court.  The next level in Minnesota is the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The next final level is the United States Supreme Court.  The District Court is the level where a trial to a jury would occur, and, where guilt or innocence is determined.  If a person is convicted by a jury, and if a defendant does not believe the conviction is valid for some reason, the the defendant can appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  That is what the defendant did in this case.  He appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  As for attorney fees, there would be attorney fees charged at the District Court level.  And, if a person wanted to appeal, there would be additional attorney fees charged for an appeal.  In this case, defendant argued that the evidence was sufficient to prove he had knowledge of his prohibited status.  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in this case concluded that the defendant did know of his prohibited status, and, that the government proved up that evidence.  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals therefore upheld defendant’s conviction.

United States v. Marin, 21-1016, Benton, J.  Appealed from United States District Court, Southern District of Iowa.

Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Lynne Torgerson was not attorney of record in this case.

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